Hauwa Ibrahim fled her hometown of Gwoza when Boko Haram took control of the area, but lost her daughter in the process. In this interview, she shares how her daughter got captured by Boko Haram and how she and her family escaped to safety. She also talks about the Malkohi camp where she currently stays and how she and her family are making ends meet.
This interview is part of a body interviews done in partnership between Guardian Newspaper and Oxfam Nigeria. For information on how to support local organizations working with displaced people in the northeast, reach out to us email@example.com
My name is Hauwa Ibrahim and I am from the town of Gwoza. It was the time Boko Haram entered our community that I left Gwoza.
In Gwoza town, when the attack came it was on a Tuesday evening. We all ran into our houses and stayed indoors for two days. On Thursday, we couldn’t stay any longer, because we got information that Boko Haram were out to kill only our husbands, so that’s when we set out and ran away from Gwoza we ran to Madagali. Our husbands ran and went to the hills. Some of the men went to meet with their families when things got quiet, but for me I didn’t see my husband till after another Thursday when he eventually turned up because all of us were apprehensive.
At the time the military came over to take the town of Gwoza everyone went haywire. People ran helter- skelter. My daughter who at the time was almost 12 years old ran away I didn’t know where everybody ran to because we were running. I have 6 children, and four are biologically mine (2 belong to my co–wife). At the time when the aircrafts came and they were shooting down to recapture the town of Gwoza, I decided to take these children and run away. That was when I learnt my daughter was taken by Boko Haram.
We escaped to Madagali because it is not too far from Gwoza. While we were trying to leave Madagali we now found out that Madagali has been shut down because Boko Haram had captured Madagali as well. Everybody was look to leave Madagali, but I wanted to get my daughter back. I had information that she was with Boko Haram, so I sent my younger kids to go back to Gwoza and get her so we can run away together. But my daughter had already been hypnotized by them. She said they were actually going to come and help us so we will run away from Madagali but it was obvious that they were going to hold us hostage. I decided that we weren’t going to sleep in Madagali that night. We met with someone who said he was going to help us, so we begged him to take us to the border town, and I got him a little something to give him as a thank you.
We were able to cross into Cameroon through Yaounde town. Some of their customs officers who were very nice to us; they gave us food for our children and opened a room for us in one of their offices and let us to lie down. It was there they were able to get us a vehicle to another small village not too far from there.
We were in Makolo for three days, from where we were able to get a bigger vehicle that will transport all of us. It was there I was able to get my husband’s number and I called him. He said he was already in Yola and if we were able to get ourselves out of there, we will meet him up in Yola. So they got us out there and took us to another place close to the border that wasn’t too far from Yola, then we got another vehicle that transported us to Yola.
In Yola, we got information that the people of Gwoza had a settlement community in Malkohi. That was how we got here. God has been good to us so far.
But I still have not found any information my daughter. My husband used to be a driver. He left Gwoza without anything, not even shoes. Someone got him a tricycle a keke napep (commercial tricycle) and bought 4, and that was what he was using to make some earnings with that he was able to get some money. Now the keke napep work has folded up. He bought me a grinding machine and sewing machine because that used to be my business before at home. That is what we are keeping up with now.